• Jonathan Bloom writes about why we waste food, why it matters and what we can do about it. This is his blog.

The Gift of Food Recovery

Lest you have any doubts on how utterly doable food recovery is…the below video will hopefully communicate that just a few people working together can make a huge dent in local hunger by rescuing and redistributing food. (Heck, one woman and a van can work wonders.)

December 21, 2011 | Posted in Food Recovery | Comments closed

Giving the Gift of Reduced Waste

With the holidays fast approaching, I wanted to pass on a few quick tips to help you minimize holiday food waste:

1. Don’t cook too much food. Thanksgiving celebrates abundance. As far as I know, none of the winter holidays do. Get a good guest count and try not to go overboard. After all, we can only eat so much goose.

2. Don’t serve too much. Let family and friends serve themselves so they can take as much or as little as they want. Beware the “good provider syndrome,”

3. Be proactive with leftovers. Share the love and leftovers–redistribute them to other guests.  And then repurpose what you have leftover. It helps to have an idea of other dishes you can create with leftovers (i.e. roast chicken to chicken soup).

Bonus: Eat some fruitcake–nobody else is going to!

December 19, 2011 | Posted in History and Culture, Household | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

It’s official: You can ignore those ‘best before’ dates on your eggs. (At least that’s the word in the UK.)

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This article on Bon Appetit Management food waste minimization at Penn is music to my ears.

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Wish you had a sleek kitchen compost container? Now UCan.

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Finally, it’s nice to see the big boys like Waste Management getting more and more interested in composting.

December 16, 2011 | Posted in Composting, Food Safety, Friday Buffet | Comments closed

Paying for Your Waste

Straight from Saudi Arabia…here’s a restaurant charging a fee for uneaten food…that goes to a Somalian charity. Hard to argue with that last part.

My second thought: I guess taking home leftovers isn’t big in Saudi Arabia. Also, showing the words “the greedy are punished” burning embers flicker on screen made me think the video was headed in another direction.

Any opinions?

December 14, 2011 | Posted in International, Restaurant | Comments closed

Corn for Kitties

I just learned about this kitty litter made from corn. And I am speechless.

Okay, deep breath.

Wow, this is a terrible idea! Talk about a waste of potential food, farm land, the ag inputs (natural resources) that go into growing our food. And a clear sign we are producing too much food.

Given the impact that conventional agriculture has on the planet, it makes little sense that so much of corn goes to feed animals and fuel cars. It makes less sense for it become fodder for cats’ target practice.

Sure, the kind of corn used as kitty litter isn’t fit for human consumption. But we’d be much better off, from a climate change and soil health perspective, not growing such an abundance of corn that it winds up being used for such trivial purposes.

Finally, has there ever been a better example as to why our current farm subsidies need reforming?

December 12, 2011 | Posted in Farm, Household | Comments closed

Friday Buffet

Whenever a publication as august as The Financial Times weighs in on dumpster diving, I always link to it (and try to match the paper’s salmon color).

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Donating prepared foods can be harder than you think, but it’s important! As is reducing the overall excess at holiday or other gatherings.

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If you’re gonna build a casino, getting a $2.5 million federal renewable energy grant to defray the cost of an on-site anaerobic digester is like hitting the jackpot. It’s a solid ideas, as there’s sure to be plenty of buffet food waste to convert to energy…

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Finally, congratulations to the National Hockey League’s Food Recovery Program. The NHL program, which diverted arena food that would have been thrown away into 163,000 meals last year, won the Sports for the Environment Award.

December 9, 2011 | Posted in Casino, Energy, Friday Buffet | Comments closed

(British) Progress!

While the US grocery industry is slowly turning to the topic of food waste–huzzah!–their British counterparts are already a year into a voluntary agreement to trim waste.

More than 50 UK grocery retailers have signed on to The Courtauld Commitment Phase 2, which sets many waste reduction goals. Food is one of them. Interestingly, the food waste goal focuses on homes: reduce home food and drink waste by 4% from 2009 to 2012.

You might be wondering: What does that have to do with grocers? That’s the best part–UK supermarkets have taken some responsibility for their role in prompting home food waste. As a result, many grocers have launched campaigns to preach the food waste reduction gospel to their customers.

And so…there has been a 3% reduction in home food waste, according to WRAP. They are on schedule to meet the 2012 goal. Even more impressive, though, are the numbers in comparing 2006/7 with 2010. In that time, household food waste dropped 13% and “avoidable” waste decreased by 18%.

That represents a saving of millions in cash and CO2 equivalent tonnes. Once more–Huzzah!

December 7, 2011 | Posted in Energy, Environment, Household, International | Comments closed

Greetings from Milan

Buongiorno, friends. I’m at the Barilla’s International Forum on Food and Nutrution. I just participated in a panel on food waste, which was pretty fascinating.

First, it was heartening to experience so many intelligent people considering the topic of wasted food. Second, the level of research on the topic in Europe is impressive. And the commitment to reducing waste–as epitomized by the European Commission’s 50% reduction goal by 2020–is equally encouraging.

Now, it’s just a matter of making it happen. Hopefully, with initiatives like my co-panelist Andrea Segre’s Last Minute Market (you can translate the page well in Chrome) and the upcoming European campaign A Year Against Waste (2013), this will happen sooner rather than later.


November 30, 2011 | Posted in International, Personal | Comments closed

Post-Turkey-Day Buffet

Happy (de facto) National Leftover Day! Join the crowd and enjoy the world’s best sandwich–the turkey-stuffing-cranberry goodness. Gravy and mayo are optional, but at least one is recommended.

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Don’t throw out that carcass! First, you can make a great soup with it. Then, if you’re in Rhode Island, you can compost it via EcoRI News.

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British Eco Chef Tom Hunt cooked at last week’s Feeding the 5K. In his neat blog, he discusses Ribollita, a traditional Tuscan leftover soup, and pens a culinary call-to-arms on using old bread in The Life of a Loaf.

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I’d heard about Concrete Jungle before, but this article reminded me of their awesome Atlanta tree-gleaning-ness.

November 25, 2011 | Posted in History and Culture, Household, International | Comments closed

Be Thankful, Not Wasteful

Thanksgiving celebrates plenty. Yet, for many of us in America, every day and every meal don’t look don’t look all that different from Thanksgiving.

Given that reality, it’s all the more important to be mindful of our good fortune on Thanksgiving. And while we should certainly enjoy the day, we don’t honor anyone or anything by wasting food.

That’s why I’m asking you to help ensure that your family and friends minimize waste at Thanksgiving. Let’s call it the Be Thankful, Not Wasteful campaign. Here are a few ideas on how:

  • Celebrate abundance, not excess. Don’t take too much when you serve yourself. You can always take seconds! Keep in mind that the average Thanksgiving dinner today comes in, conservatively, at 2,057 calories. And remember, what’s on our plates is seldom saved.
  • Distribute the bounty. If you’re the Thanksgiving host, suggest that your guests bring along a few plastic containers of various sizes to fill with leftovers (or have some on hand). There’s no sense centralizing so much food that we’ll struggle to use. Being so overt about leftovers may feel a bit odd, but that slight discomfort will pale in comparison to the disappointment from having to toss pounds of once-good food.
  • Properly save those leftovers. And do it quickly. Not letting foods sit out too long in the bacteria danger zone (40-140 degrees F) will mean they’ll be safe to eat and also last longer.
  • Plan for your leftovers…and eat them! Whether it’s a turkey pot pie, turkey soup or turkey tacos, find some fun ideas that’ll get you excited to use up your T-day remains.

Share Your Tips and Tricks

Help others reduce waste around Thanksgiving by sharing your insight. We’ve already received a few helpful tips, including Rachel’s idea to make notes on the number of guests, the amount of food eaten and the amount remaining to help prepare the right amount next year.

I’m directing people to the Wasted Food Facebook page where we are compiling a series of tips, successes and–should they occur–failures. These can be videos, photos or descriptions from inside people’s Thanksgiving dinners.  Feel free to post during the prep, the dinner itself, or the “aftermath.” Together, we’ll create a living blueprint for how celebrations can balance abundance with respect for resources.

A few ideas:

• Videos describing what your friends/family are doing this year to reduce food waste. Or, if a video is too much, a photo or description of the steps taken will work just fine.
• A recipe or two for your favorite dishes made from Thanksgiving leftovers.
• Your preferred way to make the perfect leftover turkey sandwiches.
• An “unboxing” video of leftovers from the dinner you attended.

Spread the Word!

  • Consider letting your social network know about the Be Thankful, Not Wasteful initiative. Please share this post and ask folks to take action on their own. (And of course to post their results!) If you’re on Twitter, you can use the hashtag #ThankfulNotWasteful to discuss your strategies, successes or failures.
  • Do you blog? Please consider a post or video encouraging your readers to participate. Ask readers to join you in adding their voice to the discussion.
  • Mention the initiative–and this fabulous book–at your Thanksgiving celebration. I mean, I don’t want you to start any dinner table arguments or anything, but…
  • Solicit tips and tricks from your friends and family who aren’t social media savvy and post them yourself – I know I’ll be asking my Grandma for some ideas.

Thanksgiving is the one day of the year where we’re all focused on food. Let’s leverage that as a call to action to change our wasteful ways for the rest of the year. I think the day will be more meaningful that way. And remember — even incremental changes can have a massive effect if they’re done by millions of Americans.

November 23, 2011 | Posted in Household | Comments closed
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